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15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

15 Easy Ways To Stay Productive Used By 15 Designers

You love what you do, in fact you couldn’t imagine trading your life as a designer for anything else. But sometimes the frustration sets in because staying productive as a designer is tough.

Russian based designer Yevgeny Yermakov had the same problem and to combat it he’s been asking designers a set of five simple questions about their work habits and creative challenges, published on his website 5 Questions for 100 Designers. I’ve distilled the very best advice from the interview series here, so today I’m sharing 15 easy ways to stay productive used by 15 designers. Introduce these tactics to your day and you’re sure to see massive results.

1. Make a List

Make a to do list every single day and refer to it often. It will keep you on track and working in a productive way throughout your day. By making a list you will stop wasting time on deciding what to do next every few hours because it’s already set in your list.

2. Always Carry a Notebook

You never know when inspiration will strike, so always carry a notebook to ensure you are ready to record ideas and designs on the go. As a designer you depend on good ideas and it would be a shame if you forgot one because you had nothing to write it down when it came to you.

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3. Exercise to Clear Your Mind

When you’re sitting in front of a screen all day, you’re not getting the exercise your body needs. Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day to refresh your mind and stay productive.

4. Use a Timer & Set It Hourly

When you’re working, set a timer on your phone or clock and have it count down hourly. Seeing the time ticking by will keep you on track when distractions are tempting you, keeping you productive all day long.

5. Finish What You Start

Every time you jump to a new task, you waste valuable time and energy by switching your thought patterns and focus. Finish what you start before you begin something new to stay productive.

6. Listen to Music While You Design

Music can have an incredible impact on the way you work. Find music that keeps you working at a steady pace, the genre will be different for everyone so try out different styles to see what works for you.

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7. Break Up Screen Time

If you’re a designer it’s likely that a lot of your work is computer based. Even so, try to break up your day with less computer heavy activities (even if it just means a 15 minute break away from the screen). Try paper based sketching or flicking through books for inspiration.

8. Find Your Ideal Time to Work

Everyone’s ideal time to work is different. If you’re a morning person, capitalise on that by rising early. If you’re more of a night owl, then embrace it. Work with your natural rhythms, not against them, to stay productive.

9. Get Out of the House Every Single Day

Being cooped up at home isn’t good for productivity. You’ll end up feeling restless and unproductive if you spend too much time each day in the same room of your house. Get outside and embrace the real world.

10. Take a Break in Nature

Even better than just getting out of the house is taking a break in nature. It could be as simple as a walk to a local park, or some time sitting amongst the trees in your own garden. You’ll return to your work refreshed and productive.

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11. Give Yourself Real Deadlines

It’s easy to give yourself the benefit of time, especially when you’re working for yourself, but deadlines are powerful. Set a deadline then work towards meeting it. You might surprise yourself.

12. Create a Checklist

Make a list of things you need to check off to master a project you work on e.g. font style, fabrication or branding. Having a checklist will streamline the process and ensure you maintain a consistent quality in your work.

13. Take Care of You

Take time out for the things in your life that really matter. Make time for family, friends, your health and well-being. These are the things that really matter, and without them your work means little else.

14. Tap Into The Power of Technology

Apps like Evernote, Clear, iCal, Sparrow and Text Expander can help you get organized and keep you on track. Harness it and use it to your advantage.

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15. Keep Up The Momentum

Do something every single day to get closer to your goal. Momentum breeds momentum. Once you start you’ll keep gathering pace and your productivity will soar. You will be surprised by how much you have achieved at the end of the year.

Featured photo credit: My Decorative via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2019

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Invaluable Lessons You Can Learn From Your Mistakes

Do you like making mistakes?

I certainly don’t.

Making mistakes is inevitable. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could be at ease with them?

Perhaps there is a way to think of them differently and see their benefits.

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Why Mistakes Feel Dangerous

Mistakes often feel dangerous. Throughout human history, our errors have often been treated as dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  • Our vulnerability. We have limited and fragile support systems. When those systems fail, people often lose their lives.
  • Real dangers. Nature can be dangerous, and making mistakes can put us at the mercy of nature and its animal residents seeking a meal.
  • Ignorance. Many cultures scapegoats someone whenever there is a failure of some kind. Scapegoating can be serious and deadly.
  • Order. Many societies punish those who do not conform to the prevailing orthodoxy and treat difference and non-conformity as a mistake. Even our brains flash an error message whenever we go against prevailing social norms.

We have a history of handling mistakes and failure in an unpleasant way. Since each of us carries our human history with us, it can be a challenge to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

If we can embrace the reality of mistakes, we can free ourselves to be more creative in our lives and dig up some interesting insights.

Why We Can’t Avoid Making Mistakes

Many people operate under the notion that making mistakes is an aberration, a mistake if you will. You can call it perfectionism but it is a more substantial problem. It is really a demand for order and continuity.

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When we think we can eliminate mistakes, we are often working from a perspective that sees the world as a fixed place. The world, however, is not so obliging. Like it or not, the world, and everything in it, is constantly changing.

Change is more constant and pervasive than we can see with our own eyes which is why we often miss it. Our bodies are constantly changing. The natural conditions of the earth change constantly as well. Everything, including economic and cultural systems have life cycles. Everything is in a constant state of flux.

We cannot see all of the changes going on around us since rates of change vary. Unfortunately, when we try to create a feeling of certainty and solidity in our lives or operate from the illusion of stability and order, we are fighting reality and our natural evolution which is built on adapting to change.

It is better to continually bend into this reality rather than fight every change we experience. Fighting it can cause us to make more mistakes. Finding the benefits in change can be useful and help us minimize unnecessary mistakes.

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Lessons Learned from Making Mistakes

Life has so many uncertainties and variables that mistakes are inevitable. Fortunately, there are many things you can learn from making mistakes.

Here is a list of ways to harness the mistakes you make for your benefit.

  1. Point us to something we did not know.
  2. Reveal a nuance we missed.
  3. Deepen our knowledge.
  4. Tell us something about our skill levels.
  5. Help us see what matters and what does not.
  6. Inform us more about our values.
  7. Teach us more about others.
  8. Let us recognize changing circumstances.
  9. Show us when someone else has changed.
  10. Keep us connected to what works and what doesn’t work.
  11. Remind us of our humanity.
  12. Spur us to want to better work which helps us all.
  13. Promote compassion for ourselves and others.
  14. Teach us to value forgiveness.
  15. Help us to pace ourselves better.
  16. Invite us to better choices.
  17. Can teach us how to experiment.
  18. Can reveal a new insight.
  19. Can suggest new options we had not considered.
  20. Can serve as a warning.
  21. Show us hidden fault lines in our lives which can lead us to more productive arrangements.
  22. Point out structural problems in our lives.
  23. Prompt us to learn more about ourselves.
  24. Remind us how we are like others.
  25. Make us more humble.
  26. Help us rectify injustices in our lives.
  27. Show us where to create more balance in our lives.
  28. Tell us when the time to move on has occurred.
  29. Reveal where our passion is and where it is not.
  30. Expose our true feelings.
  31. Bring out problems in a relationship.
  32. Can be a red flag for our misjudgments.
  33. Point us in a more creative direction.
  34. Show us when we are not listening.
  35. Wake us up to our authentic selves.
  36. Can create distance with someone else.
  37. Slow us down when we need to.
  38. Can hasten change.
  39. Reveal our blind spots.
  40. Are the invisible made visible.

Reframe Reality to Handle Mistakes More Easily

The secret to handling mistakes is to:

  • Expect them as part of the process of growth and development.
  • Have an experimental mindset.
  • Think in evolutional rather than fixed terms.

When we accept change as the natural structure of the world, our vulnerability and humanness lets us work with the ebb and flow of life.

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When we recognize the inevitability of mistakes as part of the ongoing experiment which life is, then we can relax more. In doing so we may make fewer of them.

It also helps to keep in mind that trial and error is an organic natural way of living. It is how we have evolved over time. It is better to be with our natural evolution than to fight it and make life harder.

When we adopt an evolutional mindset and see ourselves as part of the ongoing human experiment, we can appreciate that all that has been built up over time which includes the many mistakes our ancestors have made over thousands of years. Each one of us today is a part of that human tradition of learning and experimenting,

Mistakes are part of the trial and error, experimental nature of life. The more you adopt the experimental, evolutional frame, the easier it becomes to handle mistakes.

Handling mistakes well can help you relax and enjoy all aspects of life more.

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Featured photo credit: Sarah Kilian via unsplash.com

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